Jenks Tribune fights to keep local journalism alive, needs community support
It is now mid-July of 2020, which means every weekday morning, I get up bright and early and head to the office to prepare the Jenks Tribune for its print-edition comeback Aug. 7.
We are still putting out the weekly e-editions through the end of July, but let’s be honest, our focus is on Aug. 7 and beyond.
The pressures of covering the Jenks community weigh heavily, especially with a dwindled staff thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Covering news and sports is not going to be an easy feat, but a challenge I look forward to and will attack with confidence on a weekly and even daily basis.
However, those pressures are none bigger than an ant hill compared to a towering mountain when you talk about the pressures of selling advertisements for the newspaper.
I recently read an article from The Atlantic titled, “The Constitution Doesn’t Work Without Local News”. It was mesmerizing and quite honestly brought tears to my eyes as a I read it. I may not have agreed with every little piece of information in the editorial, but the premise was spot on and it gives the reason why local journalism is dying across the country.
Simply put … as a society, we don’t value community news anymore. Sure, we like it. We think it is cute and fluffy like a puppy dog, but we can all live without the new puppy and as a society, we have started to think we can live without local news.
Since we started printing the Jenks Tribune Aug. 16, 2019, I lost count of the times I heard from people how much they enjoyed the paper and how much they looked forward to reading it every week.
It is an amazing feeling when you get to see a new edition for the first time. There are no words or phrases I can think of that describe the amount of work and energy it takes to put out one edition of a printed newspaper, but when you see the final product, it makes it all worth it.
The first year of the Jenks Tribune was a learning experience for me. There are so many things I would have done differently knowing what I know now, but I am going to use that in this second go around with the printed editions.
I still have a lot to learn and that will always be the case. Jenks Public Schools Director of Athletics Tony Dillingham told me earlier in the summer that the day he doesn’t think he can learn anything is the day he needs to retire. That couldn’t be truer and that goes for everyone in every profession.
We have put together a plan that we believe in and believe will help make the Jenks Tribune stronger for its community, but in order for that plan to work, we have to have the support from the local economy.
I do not believe in charging people for the paper. I don’t believe should have to pay to get their local news, but under that model, advertising has to be strong.
I have restructured our pricing scale to make advertising more affordable over a longer period of time. Point being you can’t just purchase one ad in the newspaper and expect it to work wonders for your business. It is the ads that are consistently in the newspaper that have the most success.
We have created an avenue that makes it easier for local businesses to do that, but they have to be willing to buy in and do it.
I am grateful for the financial support we have received thus far in our first year in business, but we need more. We need more businesses to jump in with us and we need the businesses that have jumped in to jump all the way in and give us a real chance to bring this community together.
Jenks is a community full of great stories and great news, but social media is not going to do it. We use social media as a platform to get those stories out to the community, but social media by itself cannot do it.
It all comes down to how much you value local journalism. Based on what I have heard since we have been here, you value it quite a bit.
I want the Jenks Tribune to be here as long as we can, but that is not up to me. We are a business and just like any other business, we have to have money to operate.
I did not get into this industry to get rich and if you know anything about this industry, you will believe me when I say that. I got into this industry to tell stories and inform people, but we have to have ads to do it.
I love this community and I love what I do. August 7 is a few short weeks away. Give us a chance and advertise with the Jenks Tribune.